How Reporting Almost Got Me Killed, Before It Saved My Life
Dorothy Parvaz Talks to Eli Sanders About Her 19-Day Disappearance in Syria and Iran
On April 29, Dorothy Parvaz disappeared. A former reporter and columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Parvaz now works as a correspondent for Al Jazeera, and she’d flown to Syria to cover the latest uprising in the Arab Spring. After Parvaz disappeared, no one knew exactly where she was, or if she was safe, until 19 days later when she was released from an Iranian detention center and sent home to Vancouver, BC.
Eli Sanders: It’s April 29. You’ve just flown into Damascus from Doha, Qatar, and now you’re in trouble. The Syrian secret police take you into custody and put you in a car. A short while later, they pull you out of the car by your hair. You’re put in a cell with pools of blood on the floor. You see and hear people being brutalized around you. Then you’re blindfolded, taken out into a courtyard, and pushed up against a wall. How did you prepare for the possibility of being shot?
Dorothy Parvaz: There’s no way to prepare for that. I’d read the accounts of the journalists being held in Libya, and the mock-execution-type things that they’d gone through. But I had no idea what was going to happen. I didn’t know why I was being taken outside in this fashion. I have to say, initially I thought: Okay, standing up against a wall blindfolded and handcuffed—that’s never a good thing. But I was so completely overwhelmed by the noises I was hearing, by the sounds of beatings, that I didn’t know what to think. My brain was in a frenzy.
Did you think you were about to die?
I had a really bad feeling, I’ll put it that way. There was a distinct possibility that things might not end well for me at that point. I just didn’t think that any offense that I’d committed was worthy of quite that response, but when you hear people being beaten up around you like that, you realize you’re in a different world. I can hear these guys screaming, crying out. And there are guards, just a few feet away from me, cracking jokes and laughing. This is normal for them. And there’s nothing about it that should be normal for anybody. You feel like you’re in the presence of monsters, basically. Who are these people? Depending on who was leading me from my cell or taking me to or from my interrogation, a couple of them seemed almost apologetic. You know: Sorry, sorry. They would lead me gently by my arm. And then others would poke me and not tell me when stairs were coming up so I’d take a nice tumble. So it was just odd. And they have this odd sense of chivalry, like Oh, we’re so sorry, this place is not suitable for women. Like it’s suitable for men somehow.
In the West, there’s a sense that it’s hard to be a woman in the Arab world. But it sounds like the reverse is true in a detention situation, where there’s a sort of female privilege.
I think that’s correct. From what I saw in Syria, women were not beaten. It’s probably from this strange macho thing—that there’s no challenge or joy in beating a woman. It’s not that hard. But it’s not that hard to beat up an 18-year-old guy who’s handcuffed and blindfolded, either.
What did you do when you were handcuffed and blindfolded and up against the wall? Did you pray?
No, I didn’t. How should I put this? I kept apologizing to my family in my mind.
Did your reporter’s brain save you from your emotions—you know, keep you focused on gathering information?
Definitely. When I was taken out of the car and when I was being—I gathered after a little while—processed for some sort of arrest or detention, the vibe in that room, if I were just me, I think I would have fainted. I am not a tough person. I am not. I’m standing in someone else’s blood. There are handcuffs dangling at eye level. There’s a bunch of very angry men in the room. And I can’t seem to get any kind of connection with any of them to find out what is happening to me. So the only thing you can do is start looking at the room: Okay, how big is this room? How many people are in here? Who’s saying what? What’s that sound I hear outside? What am I smelling? What’s going on?
And maybe the act of taking mental notes presumes that you’re going to be able to tell about it later.
It’s an incredibly optimistic act, yeah. That’s exactly it. Every bit of information you can scrap together—even when you’re in an empty cell, or when you’re in a cell with somebody who doesn’t really want to communicate with you or can’t—you just focus on that. How can I get information? How can I figure out what’s going on? How can I describe this later? When I can describe this later. And then, after Syria, when I was in Iran—obviously, since I was being investigated for being a spy, they’re not going to give me access to a laptop or a pen or anything. So for over two weeks I just sat there, my fingers twitching, wishing I could write or communicate what was going on. But I couldn’t.
You sort of reach capacity when you’re note-taking in your mind.
I started compartmentalizing in ways I hadn’t before. But it depended on the day, as well. Some days were better than others. Some days I would wake up feeling like Okay, things are going to go well. I’ll be out of here soon, and then I can write about what I saw in Syria, and this is important. Because I don’t think this is something that people have definitively seen and written about. And someone should know what’s happening there.
That was the whole reason for going to Syria. The information we’re getting out of there is so piecemeal. This is a government that’s in absolute crisis crackdown mode. But they’re in denial. They want to have it both ways. On the one hand they’re saying: Everything’s fine, no problem, Al Jazeera is just blowing everything out of proportion, ignore the videos of us shooting at funeral processions. On the other hand they’re saying: Why would you come here during this crazy time? Well, you can’t have it both ways.
Why did you go there at this crazy time, at considerable risk to yourself?
I had to see what was going on. Because the information is so sketchy that you don’t really know what to trust. I’m getting the same sense that any other journalist is getting, probably, looking at those videos that people are sending out on their mobiles, that things aren’t good in some areas. But then you get other reports from the government. And as a journalist, you really have to see for yourself, don’t you?
Why is Syria so scared of Al Jazeera?
Because Al Jazeera has got a lot of influence. I think that Al Jazeera covers the Arab world in a way that other news outlets can’t or don’t.
Did the experience of Lara Logan, the CBS News correspondent who was sexually assaulted covering the protest in Egypt, enter your mind?
No. I wasn’t thinking about Lara Logan at all. I was mostly thinking about what I was seeing and hearing. Sharing a cell with a 19-year-old woman who was begging and pleading to be interrogated so that she could be sent home—she’d been there by the time I left for 10 days. And the why: Why do you have these kids here? Because it seemed to me a lot of the people I could see through my blindfolds, when I was taking a peek here and there, were teenagers or people in their early 20s. They seemed like kids to me. The interrogators took great care to tell me they have a very strict legal system and they follow code, and so on and so forth. Well, if they’ve committed a crime, then take them to court and charge them. Why do you have them in this trashed, disused compound, beating the living daylights out of them day and night, away from any sort of documentation?
Did those 19 days move slowly for you, or was there so much going on that it moved quickly?
In Syria, it was a pretty fast three days because there was a lot more going on around me and my senses were far more heightened. In Iran, I was kept in solitary confinemen, allowed to go outside twice a day for fresh air. I’d also get taken out now and then when my interrogator had questions for me. But, no, those were the longest days of my life.
What was the practical necessity you were most missing?
Did you have a soundtrack in your mind that got you through?
I have a wretched singing voice. I mean, really, truly miserable. But I sang and rapped a lot in my cell, either to keep my spirits up or to pass the time or to just to hear something.
What were you singing and rapping?
I’ll destroy what little credibility I have if I tell you.
I think people will forgive a lot, considering you were being held in these circumstances.
Let’s just say there was some Guns N’ Roses. There was some Cee Lo. There was some old-school gangsta rap. Some Johnny Cash, “Folsom Prison Blues.” Just trying to get through. But a lot of time I just sat there thinking: When I get out, and I am getting out, this is what I’m gonna write. And I thought about my family constantly, hoping that they were getting some information about the fact that I was being taken care of and that I was safe and in good health.
Were there stupid little thoughts that came into your mind? Little trivial things you’d forgotten to do at home?
No, not too much room for trivial thoughts. But I did worry about things. One of the things the interrogator wanted to establish was where I lived in Doha, so I gave him my address. He asked if I had any sort of relationship with the neighbors—who could confirm that I live there. Well, no, I don’t have any relationship with the neighbors, mostly because I work crazy hours. So I thought about the staff at the front desk at my building. And most of them, their English, it comes and goes, they’re mostly Filipinos and Indians, and I pictured these intelligence officials, or somebody from the Iranian embassy going over there and trying to have a conversation with, for example, this guy Abraham from Kerala (in India) who, in an attempt to tell me that the seal on my washing machine was broken just said: Your suckie suckie needs freshing. Actual words. So I was like: Oh man, how is this conversation going to go?
What did you think that everyone on the outside was thinking?
I worried about my family, I worried about my fiancé, I worried about my colleagues, my employer—How do they know I left the airport? How do they know I was sent to Iran? And I worried about the resources being used to try and find me when they could be better used reporting stories. But I cannot overemphasize how worried I was about my family. I’m very close to my parents and my siblings, and I just knew that they were freaking out.
Before this happened, what would have been your high-end estimate for how many people would have cared if you were detained in Syria or disappeared in Iran?
Did you have any idea that you would end up with a “Free Dorothy Parvaz” Facebook page with 16,000-plus people following it, and worldwide media attention, and diplomats in multiple countries pushing for your release?
No, not at all. I was completely shocked. My interrogator, every time I saw him, I would ask—because one of the things they do is require you to give them your e-mail addresses and passwords and everything—
Yeah. The Iranian interrogator was extraordinarily efficient and thorough forensically. So I would say: Did you read my e-mail? Is there anything from my dad? My fiancé? Do they know where I am? Do they know I’m here? And he once or twice said: They’ve written things about you. But he was very vague. So no, I had no idea, I was completely floored when I found out that so many people had put so much effort into trying to find me and get me back home.
Did you come home to find that he’d done a lot of internet shopping with your passwords?
Uh, no. And I’ve changed my passwords. [Laughs] But the guy who interrogated me—I never saw his face.
How did that work?
You’re blindfolded when you’re taken out of your cell. There seemed to be a set of rooms where interrogations happened. And some of them had these two-way mirror things. And so he was on one side, I was on the other, and sometimes he’d slide bits of paper through this little slot—ask me to explain an article that I’d written or make a statement regarding something or the other. Other times, if those rooms weren’t available, I was put sort of facing the corner of a room and seated in a school desk. Like a writing desk. And I was facing the corner so I was allowed to lift my mask up a bit so I would be more comfortable. So, that’s how it happened that I never saw the man’s face. I saw his shoes. They looked sensible. Like Clark’s or something. That kind of style. And he was incredibly courteous. And if he sensed that I needed something, or needed a minute, he was immediately on the case: Can I get you something? Can I get you some water? Some snacks? He was very concerned about the fact that I’m a vegetarian, and what they were feeding me. He said: You know, we don’t want you to go back and look thin and have them say, ‘Look, they starved her.’
Sort of a morphed version of Iranian hospitality—or Middle Eastern hospitality in general—where they would be completely ashamed to send you out of their house not full.
Yes. And how strange to experience that kind of hospitality at Evin (a prison in Iran that has been described as a torture chamber by former inmates). They sent me home with three boxes of this candy called Gaz. It’s kind of this nougaty stuff. I was born in Isfahan and that is like my favorite Iranian candy. He sent me home with three boxes of it. I didn’t know what to make of that, but I was grateful to be sent home in good health and the candy was a bonus.
Which articles of yours did he shove under the partition to ask you about?
Actually, one about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I’d written an editorial about it, and he wondered what that was about. I just think he wasn’t clear on what the political tone of that was supposed to be. And so of course I just minimally explained it, just to clarify that it had nothing to do with Iran. Just random things. I did a project at Cambridge on press censorship in Iran during the Shah’s time and during current times—so I had to explain that a little bit. A few other things.
People here were worried that a series you wrote during your time at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in which you traveled back to Iran after being gone for many years, would come up. And other people were worried because they’d read journalist Roxana Saberi’s account of being detained in Iran for five months in 2009 and having her communications with a P-I photographer scrutinized—because the name of the paper had the word “intelligence” in it, and her interrogator thought that meant it was connected to the CIA. Did your work for the P-I come up at all?
Yeah, it did. And as he was looking up articles that I’d written on Iran I wasn’t sure what he was finding, because the paper shut down in 2009 and I wasn’t sure how easy it was to search on the web site for old articles. So I took great pains in saying: Yeah, OK, these are the things you’ve found, but let me tell you about the things I’ve written that also might seem favorable to this government. I’ve defended Iran’s right to sovereignty, I’ve written about its culture in a positive way, I’ve not been a fan of the Bush administration’s bullying of Iran… And I explained, in Farsi, that I’ve never really had a love affair with any government. I just report on the news. He asked a lot of questions: Why would you write this? Why would you say this? What made you interested in this? And not just in relation to my writing. Like I said, the man was reading my e-mails, he was looking through my cell phone and looking at people’s business cards that I had. Who’s this guy? How often do you talk to him? What business does he do? What organizations are you a member of? So, yeah, very detailed and thorough.
Any pro tips for withstanding extended interrogation?
Yeah, tell the truth. Tell the truth because a good interrogator will ask you over and over and over again. And they do change the times of day that they interrogate you. I don’t know if that’s a deliberate tactic or if that’s just what the guy’s schedule is like. But I saw him at seven in the morning, I saw him at ten at night. So, tell the truth, and remain consistent, and by no means should you ever, ever, ever confess to something that you haven’t done. Someone might say: Oh, just do it because it’s easier. It’s no trouble. Don’t.
I saw Roxana Saberi speak, actually, in Qatar. She was promoting her book, Between Two Worlds, and that was one of the things she said she regretted was admitting to being a spy when she wasn’t. And I couldn’t for the life of me understand why she would confess to something that she hadn’t done. In a country where you know that carries the death penalty. And you’re a reporter and you’ve lived there for years. What are you thinking?
Were you asked to confess to anything?
Well, I was asked to tell the truth. Just tell us the truth and things will go faster. And I said: Yep, absolutely. Ask me any questions. I was very lucky, as well. I didn’t know how much other information this guy was getting besides what he had from Google and me. I had no idea what his sources were. But it really helped my cause, the fact that so many people on the outside were getting my name out. My friends from high school, my former P-I colleagues, my fellow Neiman Fellows, people I knew from Cambridge from the Wolfson Press Fellowship there, they were consistently putting out these sort of biographical articles about me, which reinforced, from multiple sources, to this man, who I was. And that really helps.
What do you think was the biggest factor in getting you released? Because in the scheme of things you weren’t there for very long. Something very profound must have happened to get them to release you so quickly.
I don’t think they wanted me in the first place. I think what happened was Syria, rather maliciously, sent me there with spy allegations, which can carry the death penalty or an extraordinarily long prison sentence—I mean, I was told in Syria, by my interrogator: No, we don’t think you’re a spy. We’re sending you back to Qatar. And then they sort of pulled a bait and switch on me at the airport. Now, Syria has pretty good diplomatic relations with Iran. So, here’s an Iranian citizen shipped off to them by Syria and Syria’s saying, She’s a spy. Well, they have to do their due diligence. They have to investigate whether or not I’m a spy. And I think it became quite clear that I wasn’t. I don’t know what other factors there were. I could have been there longer. But, like I said, I just kept telling the truth, and fortunately people on the outside were telling the truth as well, and I got really lucky.
There’s this weird interlude in your story, and I’ve become fascinated with it—it’s the part you just alluded to, when you’re thrown out of Syria, you’re taken to the airport, you think they’re sending you back to Qatar, and then you realize they’re putting you on a plane to Iran. They have to drag you kicking and screaming onto this plane because you’re worried about what you’ll face in Iran if they believe you’re a spy. But you don’t win the fight and so there you are, on a commercial airline—Caspian Airlines—between Syria and Iran, and you’re in this new space. Not a jail cell space anymore, but on a commercial airline flight. Something most people associate with freedom of movement, travel, maybe Skymall shopping. What do you do on this flight?
[Laughs.] Well, so, to begin with there was this plane full of Iranians watching me sort of launch myself at the airplane door trying to get off of the plane while it was still at the gate. And there were these two plain clothed security guys and a third man, who didn’t end up staying on the plane, and they’re pushing me onto the plane, and my fists are flying and all of that. So they sit me down at a window seat, like two or three rows back from the front of the plane, and they seat a diplomat next to me, a guy who has some function in the Iranian embassy in Damascus, and I was just told to sit down and shut up. And every time I made a movement—those two plain clothed officers, they were just giving me the stink eye the whole time.
So it wasn’t a situation where you could order a drink, or make a credit-card call on one of those airplane phones, or do some SkyMall shopping or anything like that.
No. No. In fact, I had two scarves in my luggage, but I wasn’t given access to them, so I had to plead for a scarf because I knew that at this point I was being taken to Iran, and by law there you have to wear a hijab as I’m sure you’re aware. I knew I might be in some trouble already and I didn’t want to aggravate things further by showing up with an uncovered head. So the passenger behind me, the husband kind of talks his wife into giving me one of her spare scarves. But no, it was not—it was a really—if I could have thrown myself out of that airplane I think there were about 10 or 15 minutes when I would have.
While it was in the air? Like, if you could have gotten to the door and opened it…
Yep. I would have just thrown myself out. Just for like about 10 or 15 minutes. Because I felt just so sick and unsettled and I wasn’t sure what was going on, and of course I had no faith in the Syrian authorities at this point. I don’t know what exactly they’ve told the Iranian authorities, and I can’t get any answers out of this guy sitting next to me, and the two guys at the front of the plane are very much making sure I don’t move.
How long a flight is it?
It’s a short flight. Two and a half hours, or something like that.
At what point did you realize that this was probably going to turn out well for you, in the scheme of things—that you were going to be released? Was it not until you were let out of Evin with sweets and sent on your way to Doha, Qatar?
As the interrogations proceeded in Iran I felt somewhat confident that this man was—he appreciated the position I was in, and he had no particular interest in keeping me there any longer than he needed to. But I had no idea how long it was going to take. Because of course you hear about other people who are still awaiting trial—the wheels of justice can move rather slowly. And I am not an expert on Iranian legal code. So it wasn’t until the night before I left that he came close. It was maybe 11:30 p.m. or so, and he said: Tomorrow morning you’re being released. Until that point you never know. Because day to day—he’d find something that I’d written, or he’d hear something else, something would strike him as suspicious. So it was just up and down.
What’s the most innocuous thing he asked you about as if it was suspicious?
Oh, well. [Laughs.] So, a few months ago a colleague at Al Jazeera showed me a spam e-mail, from this woman who was using my full name. And it was a typical sort of scam, saying: Oh, I live in Shiraz and my husband beat me… I don’t know, I can’t remember what it was, but it was asking for money. So, as I mentioned, they asked me for all of my e-mail accounts and all of my passwords. So, they asked me if I’d ever had an account with the service provider this spam e-mailer was using.
And I was like: No.
And he said: Have you ever lived in Shiraz?
I was like: No. Why would you even ask me that?
Because by now we’ve gone over my life story like, dozens of times.
He said: Oh, are you asking the questions now?
I said: Sorry, sorry, it’s just a curious question.
A few minutes later he shows me this spam e-mail.
I said: Sir, this is spam.
Did you listen to Obama’s speech on Thursday?
One of the things he mentioned was his hope that the Arab Spring would eventually come to Iran—that in a way it had started there, but was then put down very ruthlessly.
As an Iranian, I don’t think that any change or progress that would occur in Iran would come via that route. I think that things have to develop more organically. I don’t think most Iranians are anxious for that kind of violence.
Even after the protests of last year?
I think to have an American president try and encourage that sort of activity in Iran is counterproductive, because that’s seen as meddling, influencing, and encouraging unrest. And as Iranian, just my own personal opinion, I don’t think you can equate Iran with Libya, and I don’t think you can equate Libya with Tunisia, or with Bahrain. I think these are all very different cases. And I think that any change in Iran will have to come slowly, organically, and not through large-scale protests. I just don’t think that’s going to be effective.
So how would it come?
I don’t know.
Through the political process?
Maybe. Maybe. That is possible… I just don’t think the Arab Spring has much to do with Iran.
Well, setting aside Iran, what do you make of the Arab Spring.
As a journalist it’s fascinating to watch, because you’re seeing historical changes in several countries where it just seems that things are happening out of nowhere. Tunisia, from the outside anyway, if you weren’t paying close attention, it just seemed like it was happening overnight. But of course if you read the WikiLeaks you would know that the State Department actually had really good intel on exactly when things were going to get rough, when the economy was going to get bad, and how people would respond to that. So, as a journalist it’s just fascinating to watch and document. I wish there was more openness in these countries, to allow reporters to go in and document things. I wish there was less violence. As a human being, it’s gut wrenching to watch constant reports of death tolls, and especially what’s happening in Libya just seems completely beyond reason. And the reports that we’re getting out of Syria—why are they firing on funeral processions? It’s devastating, and you just kind of hope that at some point things stabilize and life just gets better for people in all of these countries.
And of course there are a lot of journalists still being held in many of these countries. Were you paying attention to journalists being held in the Middle East—and, really, all over the world—before it happened to you?
Sure. In fact, the project I worked on at Cambridge focused on Iran and the number of journalist who were being held there. But yeah, of course, I mean one of our colleagues at Al Jazeera, a cameraman, was killed in Libya. We’ve had several of our journalists detained throughout.
Are there cases that you think people here need to focus on now, in the same way they focused on your case?
I can’t really comment on a specific one, because I think that at this point—I mean, there’s detained journalists, there’s several of them detained as a result of the Arab Spring, but this is a common problem throughout the world at all times. China, several African countries. This is not unique to the Arab world. And I think that having a free press is one of the most vital things you can have in a country, and when you don’t have that you sort of downgrade your own culture, and your own democracy, and your own credibility.
And the other thing I wish people would focus on is not just the missing journalists. I mean, I certainly benefited from my friends and my colleagues focusing on me, but think of all of the people—journalists typically go missing when we’re covering the types of stories that are happening in Syria, Libya, wherever, right? There are hundreds if not thousands of people who are missing in these countries. Not the ones that they know for sure are dead. The ones who are missing, who are in detention centers like the one I saw in Syria.
Like the woman you were with in the jail cell.
Yeah. I was with two different women—and how many men? These people, on their forms, they don’t even have names. Where are their Facebook pages? Who do their families appeal to? Just from seeing the toll my detention, or temporary disappearance, took on my family and friends I can’t imagine being a Syrian sister, mother, friend not knowing where someone you love is. So journalists, we go missing covering these things, but for every journalist who’s detained, there are hundreds if not thousands over just ordinary, workaday folks, in big trouble, in dire straits, and no one knows their names.
You have triple citizenship: You’re an American, a Canadian, and an Iranian. Did you come out of this experience feeling any greater pride at one of those citizenships?
No. I really don’t have any national pride. I really don’t respect any particular government more than the other. Culturally, I’ve always felt more Iranian, even when I was out of the country for so long. Because my relationship with my family, as I said, is pretty tight and we’re Iranians. But no, I’m not a particularly nationalistic or jingoistic person. I appreciate the things that each country has to offer, and that each culture has to offer. But no, I have no national pride.
Are you going to go back?
I plan on going back in a couple of weeks and I will, as a journalist, do whatever assignment I can get my hands on.
Would you go back to Syria?
Well, they invited me back.
Right. Well, but that was right before they told you they were sending you back to Doha, and instead put you on a plan to Iran accused of being a spy. But you’ll take them up on the maybe disingenuous offer?
Um, perhaps not immediately. But, yeah. I would hate to feel that I’m being bullied out of doing my job. I don’t think any journalist responds well to that. And if you do, that just weakens what we do and waters it down and there you are again relying on a government spokesman saying one thing and a shaky YouTube video saying another.
You’re in Vancouver now. What was the first thing you wanted to do when you got off the plane?
Sit at the kitchen table with my family. Just sit down, have a cup of tea, and just look at them. Really. And apologize profusely for putting them through the distress that I put them through.
And what’s at the top of the list of stupid North American indulgences that you want to engage in now that you’re here?
Well, watching the Canucks was one of them. But, just the ability to walk outside and be free. To not be locked into a room. I guess it’s sad that I sort of see that as an indulgence at this moment—to have some agency over my life. But, no, there’s no bar that I want to run to, or ice cream that I want to eat. I’m terribly boring that way I guess. But just feeling free is quite nice.
You’ve had in most people’s minds, and I think in your own, a near death experience. And it seems that often people come out of these with a reordering of priorities in their life, or some things that they jettison, or something that they really move up that they were putting off—you know? Anything like that going on for you?
I guess at a certain point when I was wondering how long I’d be held I felt stupid for worrying about certain things.
Oh, things to stupid to even pay attention to. Like, feeling guilty about not running more than three times a week. Who cares?
Or were there, like, grudges you were holding where you were like, Oh my god, I have to forgive this person?
No, my grudges are pretty serious.
They survived 19 days of detention.
Absolutely. Actually, I had a really serious car accident when I was 19. Like, I was actually on life support, in a coma, that kind of thing. So I re-prioritized my life a long time ago. But I definitely don’t feel like I want to take the ability to be free for granted ever again. This is my first experience of being incarcerated. I’d never had that before, where I was blindfolded and handcuffed and locked in a room and whatever. And, I have to say, I devoted quite a lot of time thinking about repeat offenders and what the heck is wrong with them. Why would you want to come back to this?
Okay, Dorothy, but here you are saying you’ll go back to Syria.
Yeah. But I’m not going to go back like now. No, but I would like to. I’m not saying that my intention is to hop on a plane and go back and try and repeat the experience that I had, but is my instinct to want to go back and want to report if I can? Yeah. Hell, yeah.
You’re getting married sometime in the near future. Your fiancé talked about it while you were gone. And when I was trying to come up with questions a few people suggested this one: Where is the one place that you most want to go on your honeymoon?
What they’re really asking, I think, is: What’s the one place in the world that feels like the opposite, the total opposite of what you just experienced? It’s not the cheesy honeymoon question so much as, like: Where do you go to give yourself the reverse experience of what you’ve just had?
I actually love being in Vancouver. This is exactly the reverse experience of what I was having there. So, to me, anywhere green, cloudy, quiet. It’s cool. And again, as long as I’m not locked in a room I’m down.
This article has been updated since its original publication.